Milton Bradley Rumors

Meetings Rumors: A’s, Tigers, M’s, Red Sox, O’s

Baseball's general managers met in Orlando today and discussed potential changes to the collective bargaining agreement. MLB Executive Vice President Rob Manfred told reporters that he's optimistic about reaching a new CBA with the MLB Players Association and eager to hear the opinions of baseball's GMs. Manfred declined to go into detail on the talks, but the GMs addressed a number of hot stove topics with MLBTR soon afterwards. Here are the details (and be sure to follow @mlbtrorlando for more updates):

  • The A's are off to a busy offseason start, but it's not intentional. "I don't think any particular reason other than opportunities presented themselves when they did," A's GM Billy Beane said. "It wasn't by design or anything like that. [David]  DeJesus was somebody we inquired on back in August when he was hurt and we didn't control the pace of that negotiation, because they didn't move him until they were ready to move him."
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski says the Tigers could add left-handers, right-handers or both to their bullpen this winter.
  • The Tigers expect Andy Oliver to be a quality big league pitcher, but they aren't counting on him for their 2011 rotation, according to Dombrowski.
  • Asked who will close for his team in 2011, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik praised David Aardsma's recent body of work. Zduriencik also said he doesn't expect Milton Bradley's history with manager Eric Wedge to be an issue. 
  • The Mariners opened the 2010 season with a heavily right-handed bullpen and Zduriencik says "it'd be nice to have a left-hander or two out there" in 2011.
  • Red Sox GM Theo Epstein says the Red Sox need to get to know Andrew Miller and Taylor Buchholz before he knows specifically what to expect from the team's new acquisitions. He does like "the possibility of real upside" for both pitchers, and was impressed by Buchholz's 2008 season with the Rockies.
  • Epstein says the Red Sox bullpen is far from a finished product despite the acquisitions. "We probably have to acquire one or two relievers through trade or free agency and we will. I really believe in the guys we have in the back: [Jonathan] Pabelbon, [Daniel] Bard and possibly [Felix] Doubront. If he's not in the rotation, he could be a very valuable bullpen piece."
  • Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail says there haven't been major developments with free agents Cesar Izturis or Ty Wigginton since the O's expressed interest in both when the offseason ended.
  • For more GM Meetings coverage, see what Jed Hoyer of the Padres, Neal Huntington of the Pirates and Andrew Friedman of the Rays had to say.

Possible Platoon Partners For Domonic Brown

Jayson Werth is days away from free agency, so if the Phillies intend to re-sign their right fielder, they'll have to bid directly against other interested teams. There's a real chance Werth signs elsewhere this winter, so the Phillies are thinking ahead. Manager Charlie Manuel has acknowledged that he may pair Domonic Brown up with a more experienced player who can handle southpaws and play right field.

Brown, just 23, had no trouble hitting minor league pitching this year (.327/.391/.589 line) but he bats from the left side and the Phillies could ease him into the big leagues by limiting his exposure to left-handed pitching. Here are eight outfielders the Phillies may consider as platoon partners for Brown:

  • Jeff Francoeur, 26 years old, non-tender candidate – Frenchy has his faults, but the 26-year-old can handle lefties. He has a .299/.343/.481 line against them in his career.
  • Matt Diaz, 32 years old, non-tender candidate – Diaz has a .335/.373/.533 line against lefties in his career.
  • Juan Rivera, 32 years old, trade candidate – The Angels will have to part with an outfielder if they sign Werth or Carl Crawford. Rivera, who spent most of the 2010 season in left field, has a career .288/.333/.499 line against lefties.
  • Jose Guillen, 34 years old, free agent – He struggled against lefties this year, but boasts a .270/.327/.460 line against them in his career.
  • Xavier Nady, 31 years old, free agent – Nady, who struggled through the 2010 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, has a .297/.367/.451 line against lefties in his career.
  • Andruw Jones, 33, free agent – Jones would likely be able to find more playing time elsewhere, so he's not a natural fit in Philly, but his career (.261/.361/.501) and 2010 (.256/.373/.558) numbers against left-handers must have the Phillies salivating.
  • Milton Bradley, 32, trade candidate – Again, Bradley seems like an unlikely target for the Phillies, but he has a .300/.382/.488 line against left-handers in his career and could be available.
  • Willie Bloomquist, 32, free agent – He has a .272/.334/.366 line against lefties in his career – not much pop, but he's far more versatile than the players above. Bloomquist played all three outfield positions and all four infield positions this year, so Manuel could use him elsewhere if Brown wins the job outright.
  • Austin Kearns, 30, free agent – Kearns has a career .261/.383/.416 line against lefties and may have trouble finding an everyday job.
  • Ben Francisco, 29, on the Phillies – Francisco has a .267/.347/.460 career line against left-handers.

Diaz and Francoeur handle lefties well and can play right field, so they would be good fits for the Phils if they are indeed non-tendered. Rivera, Nady, Bloomquist and Kearns would also be legitimate options and none of the players listed figure to cost more than a few million on a one-year deal, so the Phillies are well-positioned to recover if Werth leaves and they consider alternatives to Francisco. Their biggest challenge will be helping Brown improve upon the .210/.257/.355 line he posted in 70 plate appearances this summer.


Manager Rumors: Jays, Sandberg, Mariners, Orioles

The Cubs made the day's big move, signing Mike Quade to a two-year deal, but there's lots of chatter about another candidate for the Cubs job and other teams around the league. Here are the details:

  • Sal Fasano, Dave Martinez, Luis Rivera and Rob Thomson have all been informed that they're no longer candidates for the Toronto manager's job, tweets Shi Davidi of The Canadian Press.  Don Baylor is also out of the running and is "not pleased about it," according to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun (Twitter link).
  • Ryne Sandberg, a finalist for the Cubs job, may leave the organization, a source tells Ed Price of AOL FanHouse (Twitter link).
  • Sandberg told ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago that he would like to manage elsewhere, though he was disappointed not to get the Cubs job.
  • Daren Brown, who managed the Mariners after Don Wakamatsu's dismissal, will either manage at Triple-A or be on the major league staff next year, according to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times (on Twitter).
  • Wedge said he's looking forward to working with Milton Bradley again, according to Stone (on Twitter). "I don’t hold any grudges," Wedge said. Bradley said yesterday that he's open to Wedge's hiring.
  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter will meet with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and owner Peter Angelos to discuss the team's offseason approach, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun.
  • Earlier today, Jon Heyman of SI.com reported that the Mets "love" Joe Girardi and noted that the Yankees skipper lost some leverage when Quade got the Cubs job (Twitter links).


Bradley Open To Wedge’s Hiring

One of the questions surrounding the Mariners' hire of Eric Wedge as their new manager was how (or if) Wedge could co-exist with Milton BradleyLarry Stone of the Seattle Times recaps their checkered history, stemming from a 2004 situation when Wedge pulled Bradley from a spring training game, Bradley got upset, and then was dealt to Los Angeles a few days later.

Wedge made it clear to Seattle management that he had moved past the incident, however, and it appears that Bradley also wants to move on.  Stone heard from a Mariners official who revealed two texts sent by Bradley praising the club's hire: "Whatever took place was six or seven years ago and I'm over it" and "[Wedge] was a disciplinarian and I felt our team lacked discipline last year. Hopefully, he instills some of that.''

As Stone pointed out in his original post, however, Bradley doesn't appear to have much of a choice.  His options are to either make up with Wedge and play out the season, or else get released.  Bradley would still get the $12MM he's owed for 2011, but the Mariners are committed to paying him anyway and Bradley would be burning bridges with yet another franchise.  Stone notes that Bradley is all-but-untradeable unless the M's agree to pay most of the contract or deal Bradley for another bad contract, a la their original Carlos Silva swap.

Stone brings up Pittsburgh as one potential trade partner for the Mariners, though surely one that would require the Mariners to cover Bradley's contract.  Neal Huntington is a long-time supporter of Bradley and might be one of the few GMs willing to add Bradley to the roster.  Bradley's injury history makes him a bad fit for the NL, however, since he wouldn't be able to handle playing the outfield.  A player with Bradley's baggage is also not the kind of veteran influence that the Pirates would want to bring to their young clubhouse.


Odds & Ends: Valentine, Cook, Mets, Mariners

Wednesday evening linkage..

  • Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel wonders if Bobby Valentine was ever a strong candidate for the Marlins opening this time around.
  • Troy Renck of The Denver Post (via Twitter) believes that Aaron Cook will be back with the Rockies in 2011.
  • Bobby Valentine pulling his name out of contention in Florida could be a sign that things are heating up elsewhere, writes Larry Stone of The Seattle Times.
  • Jeff Wilpon would like to hire a GM by the end of the World Series, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.
  • Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times (via Twitter) says it's not impossible that we'll see Eric Wedge and Milton Bradley in the same clubhouse again.

Padres Still Eyeing Hart, May Need Arms Too

Much has been made of the surprising first-place Padres' needs as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. It's a known fact that they've relied on tremendous pitching to win in spite of an offense that ranks 27th in the Majors with a .701 team OPS and 21st with 396 runs scored.

The San Diego Union Tribune's Tim Sullivan says that manager Bud Black made a subtle pitch to Corey Hart, a known Padres target, at the Home Run Derby, opining to the Milwaukee right fielder that a lot of his home runs would also have gone out in Petco Park to gauge a reaction. While Hart kept an even keel and simply replied, "Yeah, they would have," Black says he wanted Hart to know that the Padres were interested.

Padres closer Heath Bell also spoke with Hart, and relayed that Hart isn't happy to be on the trading block. If he does get moved, he would like to train in Arizona near his newly-purchased house.

While Hart's 22 home runs would look nice in the middle of the Padres lineup and add some much needed support for Adrian Gonzalez, it's worth noting that the offense may no longer be the club's main focus.

Both Mike Adams and Mat Latos have landed on the disabled list in the past week. While Latos is expected to recover quickly, the Padres will likely be limiting his second half innings.

Padres general manager Jed Hoyer did acknowledge that they have the resources to improve both the offense and the defense, but said that the odds of a significant improvement to both seemed "remote." Any trades that send away cost-controlled young players will require a return that's controlled beyond 2010 for the Padres as well, according to Hoyer, who stressed that financial limitations make cost-control important to San Diego.

Sullivan asked Bell about his personal wish list for acquisitions, and Bell named Hart, Cody Ross, Miguel Tejada, and Milton Bradley before floating a unique idea: acquire Lance Berkman and put him back in the outfield. It's unlikely that Berkman would play a respectable outfield at this point, but the scenario suggests that Bell clearly would like to see a proven, veteran bat added to the lineup.


What’s Next For The Mariners?

The Mariners cashed in their biggest chip yesterday, dealing Cliff Lee to the Rangers for Justin Smoak and three prospects. With the team currently 34-52 and 16 games back in the division, it's reasonable to expect GM Jack Zduriencik to continue making moves geared more towards contending in 2011 than righting the ship in 2010.

Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times points out that with Smoak set to man first on an every day basis, the Mariners now have three players (Milton Bradley, Russell Branyan, and Michael Saunders) for two roster spots (left field, designated hitter). Bradley's sore knee buys them some time, and Saunders could also be optioned to Triple-A, but flipping Branyan to a contender looking for some pop is very possible.

Saunders was almost sent to Philadelphia in last winter's Lee deal before the Phillies' requested Tyson Gillies instead, and Baker says the Zduriencik regime "hasn't exactly been in love" with holdover prospects from the Bill Bavasi era. Saunders could again find himself on the chopping block.

Backup first baseman Casey Kotchman could go at any time, though it's tough to believe there will be much trade interest in his .208/.292/.344 batting line, regardless of how good his defense is. The same could be said of the currently injured Mike Sweeney, though he was hitting a tolerable .263/.327/.475 before his back flared up.

Jose Lopez is very much available, but Baker doesn't think either Brandon League or David Aardsma will be dealt. Both are under team control for the next two seasons, so the Mariners aren't feeling pressure to move them immediately.

The Lee trade basically represented the white flag, but the Mariners don't have much left to trade away beyond Lopez, some relievers, and possibly Branyan. More than anything, they need to start getting better production out of Chone Figgins (.235/.334/.277) and Bradley (.211/.295/.368) while Jason Vargas (3.09 ERA) and Doug Fister (also a 3.09 ERA) continue to establish themselves as viable starters behind Felix Hernandez.


Rosenthal’s Full Count: Zambrano, Angels, Brewers

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com has a new Full Count video up, so let's dive in…

  • The fact that Carlos Zambrano is a 29-year-old pitcher still capable of winning 12-15 games a year should be enough to allow the Cubs to trade him, but of course the team will have to a eat a large chunk of the $45MM left on his deal. Rosenthal reminds us that the Cubbies came ahead financially when they moved Milton Bradley this winter.
  • The Angels still want to add a first baseman, and Adam Dunn is on their list of potential targets. If they do make a move for Dunn or perhaps Adam LaRoche, incumbent first baseman Mike Napoli could become trade bait. 
  • The Nationals have yet to get serious in any discussions about a contract extension with Dunn. 
  • The Brewers are still searching for pitching, and the Blue Jays could be a potential match. Toronto likes Double-A infielder (and Canadian) Brett Lawrie, but the Brewers would be reluctant to trade him. They would have to consider it if he could land them someone like Brett Cecil or Shaun Marcum, though.
  • Arizona will probably not want to keep both Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson since they combine to make over $20MM next year, but Haren's value isn't what it once was. One baseball person told Rosenthal that "[Haren]'s not at the top of anyone's list, he's just another name."

GM Initiation: Ned Colletti

Ned Colletti was hired as general manager of the Dodgers on November 16th, 2005.  His first deal, struck about a month later with the Athletics' Billy Beane, was a huge success.  Colletti shipped Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez to Oakland for young outfielder Andre Ethier, who had just been named MVP of the Double A Texas League. 

Colletti kindly answered a few questions for MLBTR about his first trade.

MLB Trade Rumors: It was rumored that the Cubs, Yankees, and Blue Jays were also in on Bradley, with the Cubs even sending Dusty Baker to the player's home.  Were any of the other possible trades close, or was Oakland always the frontrunner?

Ned Colletti: There were a couple of teams who showed a passing interest. But the calls lacked substance. Oakland had a sincere interest. The calls were of a far more serious nature.

MLBTR: At the time of the deal you called the situation with Bradley and the Dodgers "irreconcilable."  Why did you feel that way?

Colletti: I had watched from a distance what had occurred so I had some read on the situation. When I went to the Dodgers I asked a few people who were in the midst of the situation. I asked them for facts and not opinions. I also talked to players, some who were friends with Milton. Finally, at the winter meetings in Dallas I met with one of his agents. He confirmed that giving Milton a fresh start would be best for everyone.

MLBTR: Before the '06 season Baseball America suggested Ethier might not have enough power to be a corner outfield regular.  What did you see that made you feel differently?

Colletti: From the outset his swing path was excellent. A young player can develop power later. Once he started to pull the ball more and learned his body and his swing, we felt the home runs would follow. I watched much the same occur earlier in my career, most notably with Ryne Sandberg and the Cubs when then-manager Jim Frey encouraged Sandberg to use his power to pull. Ryno went from hitting 9-12 home runs to hitting 25-40 home runs shortly thereafter.

MLBTR: When your front office puts together a trade, about how many people are involved?

Colletti: It depends on the trade. Anyone who has knowledge of the players involved – both coming and going – are asked to voice their option. It can be amateur scouts, the scouting director, major league staff and an occasional major league player, player development staff and leaders and of course our professional scouts. No one makes these decisions solo or in a vacuum. The more information you can gather from the truest evaluators the better chance you have of making the right decision.

Thanks to Ned Colletti for contributing.  Neal Huntington, Jon Daniels, and Josh Byrnes have also participated in the GM Initiation series.


Players Who Were Once Designated For Assignment

We see it all the time. Most weeks a handful of players are designated for assignment and more often than not casual fans barely notice. A DFA indicates that a team is willing to part with a player – sometimes for nothing. But sometimes those players come back from DFAs to become stars in the major leagues. Here's a list of some current players who have been designated for assignment:

  • David Aardsma – The Red Sox acquired Aardsma after the White Sox designated him for assignment in 2008. A year later, the Mariners traded for Aardsma, who became the team's closer and posted impressive rates of 10.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.
  • Mike Adams – Adams was designated for assignment in 2006, before he posted absurdly low ERAs and regularly struck out more than a batter per inning.
  • Milton Bradley – The Padres acquired Bradley from the A's after Bradley was designated for assignment in 2007. Bradley hit .313/.414/.590 for the Padres and led them to a one game playoff with the Rockies for the Wild Card spot. Of course Bradley didn't play in game 163, since he tore his ACL while manager Bud Black restrained him during an on-field argument earlier in the month.
  • Russell Branyan – No one claimed Branyan after his 2006 DFA, but the Cardinals traded for him when the Phillies designated him for assignment the next year. He didn't do much for the Cards in his 39 plate appearances in 2007, but Branyan rebounded to hit 31 homers for the Mariners in 2009.
  • Marlon Byrd – The Nationals designated Byrd for assignment in 2006 without losing him and the Rangers did the same in 2007. Byrd recovered from his '07 demotion to post three consecutive productive seasons in Texas.
  • Nelson Cruz – The Rangers designated Cruz for assignment at the beginning of the 2008 season –  usually a good time to sneak players through waivers. The Rangers must be thrilled no one claimed Cruz, who hit 37 homers in the minors that year and added 33 in the majors the following season.
  • Rajai Davis – The A's claimed the outfielder off of waivers from their Bay Area rivals in 2008. Davis was hitting .056/.105/.056 at the time, though he had batted just 19 times. He has gone on to become a useful player, hitting .305/.360/.423 last year with 41 steals and above average defense, according to UZR.
  • Jorge de la Rosa – The Royals designated de la Rosa for assignment in March of 2008, but it wasn't until a month later that the Rockies traded for him. The 29-year-old free agent-to-be has been a productive starter in Colorado since.
  • Ryan Franklin – The Reds acquired Franklin from the Phillies in 2006 after a poor start to the season. Franklin didn't do much better with the Reds, but he has been productive for three-plus seasons in St. Louis since.
  • Jeremy Guthrie – The Orioles claimed the former first round pick from the Indians early in 2007, when Guthrie had just 37 big league innings and a 6.08 ERA to his name. Since, the righty has posted a 4.19 ERA in 610.1 innings.
  • LaTroy Hawkins – The Yankees designated the reliever for assignment in 2008 and traded him to Houston, where Hawkins dominated for 24 appearances. He posted a 0.43 ERA along with 10.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9.
  • Bobby Jenks – He has fallen out of favor with the White Sox now, but they deserve credit for picking him up after the 2004 season. Jenks has struck out three times as many batters as he has walked in 301 innings with the White Sox.
  • Ryan Ludwick – The slugger started the 2005 season hitting just .154/.267/.385 so the Indians designated him for assignment. No one claimed Ludwick then, but the Cardinals made a shrewd pickup when they later signed him.
  • Brandon Phillips – The Reds claimed Phillips after the Indians designated him for assignment in 2006. He had just a .206/.246/.310 big league line at the time, but he has averaged 22 homers and 26 steals in his four full seasons with the Reds. UZR rates the 28-year-old as an above average defender at second base, too.
  • Joel Pineiro – The Red Sox designated Pineiro for assignment in 2007 when he had a 5.03 ERA and just 20 strikeouts to go along with 14 walks. Later that summer, the Cardinals acquired Pineiro and he went on to post 426.1 solid innings for the Cards. Under the tutelage of pitching coach Dave Duncan, Pineiro posted a walk rate of 1.6 BB/9 in a Cardinals uniform.
  • Grant BalfourRyan ChurchJack CustMatt DiazJerry Hairston Jr.Joel HanrahanLivan HernandezMike JacobsColby LewisJulio LugoMike MacDougalEvan MeekVicente PadillaScott PodsednikJ.C. RomeroDavid Ross, Brian Tallet, Todd Wellemeyer and Randy Wells are among the many big leaguers who have been designated for assignment.

It's worth noting that this group does not include a superstar (Cruz might be the closest thing to one). Teams designate many talented players for assignment because of roster constraints, but few enjoy as much success as the group above.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the information.